Brian Wright

Brian Wright Becomes Spurs GM

JULY 23: The moves are now official, the Spurs confirmed in a press release.

JULY 20: The Spurs are promoting assistant general manager Brian Wright to the role of GM, Jabari Young of The Athletic reports. R.C. Buford will remain in the organization and Wright will report directly to him, Young adds.

Buford, 58, has been in San Antonio’s organization since 1994 and has served as the team’s GM since 2002. The Spurs have won four championships with Buford running the front office.

Buford will likely help oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment under his new title, Young adds. He and Gregg Popovich are expected to continue to oversee the team and have final say on personnel decisions.

Wright was hired by the Spurs in his current capacity during the summer of 2016. He was previously an assistant GM with the Pistons after an eight-year stint in the Magic organization.

Initially, Wright focused mainly on scouting with San Antonio. He’s been more active over the past year, fielding trade calls for Kawhi Leonard, leading the negotiations to re-sign Rudy Gay and engineering the sign-and-trade involving DeMarre Carroll, according to Young.

The restructuring of the front office could lead to an additional hire, Young adds.

5 Candidates To Replace Rob Hennigan As Magic GM

Interim GM Matt Lloyd is among the leading candidates to take over for Rob Hennigan in Orlando, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Lloyd, who was named to the position after Hennigan was fired on Thursday, has been running the Magic’s scouting department for the past five years. He has also served as director of college scouting for the Bulls. Owner Alex Martins is keeping his list of potential Hennigan replacements confidential, but he has said Lloyd will be among those considered.

Robbins lists four other potential candidates:

  • Travis Schlenk — The vice president of basketball operations and assistant GM in Golden State, Schlenk has spent the past 13 years with the Warriors. He also worked as an assistant coach and video scout. Schlenk has ties to Orlando, breaking into the NBA in 1997/98 with the Magic’s basketball operations department.
  • Brian Wright — The assistant GM in San Antonio started as a summer intern with Orlando in 2006. He spent eight years with the Magic and served as director of college scouting before leaving to take an assistant GM’s role with the Pistons.
  • Pat Garrity — A former Magic player, Garrity is among the league’s rising stars in the front office. He is currently associate GM in Detroit.
  • Michael Zarren — Boston’s assistant GM was recently tabbed by ESPN as among the top candidates to land a full-time GM job. He is a Harvard Law School graduate and serves as lead in-house counsel for the Celtics.

Magic Rumors: G. Hill, Wright, Cousins, Hennigan

Shortly after the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan this morning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reported that team officials have interest in pursuing Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms Orlando’s interest in Hill, but tweets that the former Magic forward currently has no plans to leave the Hawks‘ ownership group.

As we wait to see if Hill’s stance changes, here are several more Magic-related notes, with a focus on today’s front office shakeup:

  • Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright is on the Magic‘s preliminary list of potential GM candidates, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski also notes that the leaked white board that went viral last week ultimately didn’t affect Orlando’s decision to replace Hennigan — the team had already decided to move on from him at that point.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Sam Amick of USA Today expressed surprise that the Magic dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry along with Hennigan (Twitter links). Both reporters note that the two men had different voices in the front office, suggesting that Perry would have likely been able to complete a trade for DeMarcus Cousins if Hennigan had been on board with it.
  • Although Hennigan didn’t have a ton of success in Orlando, he remains widely respected around the NBA and will likely have “attractive offers” to choose from when he looks for a new job, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
  • In non-Hennigan news, the Magic‘s D-League affiliate, which will begin play next season, will be called the Lakeland Magic, as Robbins details for The Sentinel.

And-Ones: Durant, Front Offices, Combine

Kevin Durant believes it’s unfair to criticize the top players for sitting out games, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com relays. “The truth about it is, it’s only for a couple of players in the league,” Durant told Haynes. “They don’t care if the 13th man on the bench rests. It’s only for like [LeBron James], [Stephen Curry], [James Harden], [Russell Westbrook]. It’s only for like five players. So you want a rule just for those five players?”

“It’s hard for you to just craft a rule out for the top players. I’ve seen guys that’s not even in the playoffs resting, sitting out for the rest of the season. And it’s nothing against those guys. I’m not trying to bash them or anything. [Suns center] Tyson Chandler is out. They got him sitting out for the rest of the year. I’m sure he wants to play, but they’re not saying anything about Tyson Chandler, so it’s hard for me to really talk about this. It’s not a league-wide rule. It’s not a league-wide concern.”

Durant added that he empathizes with fans who miss out on seeing their favorite player when they come to the arena. “I see it from the fans’ perspective and the players’ perspective,” Durant said. “I’m caught right in the middle.”

While the 2013/14 league MVP feels bad for those fans who show up the arena, he gives the situation some perspective.

“On the other hand, there’s a lot of people that can’t even afford tickets to the game. So, I kind of feel sorry for you, but then I don’t when I look at it that way,” he added. “Your parents spend hard-earned money, I understand you want to see your favorite players, but there’s some people who don’t even get a chance to watch a game live.”

Durant hasn’t played since February because of a knee injury, but the team recently announced that he has made “very good progress.” The small forward could see court-time again before the end of the season.

While we wait for Durant to get healthy so his fans can see him play, check out some notes from around the league:

  • ESPN.com examined every front office in the league and ranked them from top to bottom based on the guidance and leadership each organization provides and how it affects success on the court. Unsurprisingly, team president Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford received the highest mark. Which team received the worst mark? The Kings came in slightly below the Knicks for worst front office in the league.
  • Thunder assistant GM Mike Winger, Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon are among the executives who are viewed as potential nominees for GM roles should they become available, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com writes. Arnovitz adds that Wright may be a few seasons away from landing a gig, but those within the league believe he has what it takes to do the job well.
  • JK Management announced that it will hold the first annual Professional Basketball Combine at IMG Academy. The PBC will take place in the days following the league’s official combine in Chicago.

Spurs Hire Monty Williams, Landry Fields

The Spurs have added former Pelicans head coach Monty Williams to their basketball operations staff, the team announced today in a press release. According to the club, Williams will take on the role of vice president of basketball operations.

Within today’s announcement, the Spurs also confirmed several other hires and promotions, and one of the most notable names is a player who has only been away from the NBA for one year. San Antonio has hired former Knicks and Raptors swingman Landry Fields as a college scout, per the team’s press release.

In addition to hiring Williams and Fields, the Spurs also named Brian Wright the club’s assistant general manager, Andy Birdsong as the director of pro player personnel and the GM of the D-League’s Austin Spurs, Pat Sund as a pro personnel scount and Austin’s assistant GM, and Will Hardy as an assistant coach.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported back in July that Williams had a standing job offer from the Spurs, though it wasn’t known at the time what sort of role the team envisioned for him. Williams was an assistant with the Thunder last season, but took a leave of absence in February when his wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car crash. Before joining Oklahoma City’s staff, he spent five seasons as head coach in New Orleans, compiling a 173-221 record. He also spent time as a Spurs player under Gregg Popovich from 1996 to 1998, and was a coaching intern with the team in 2004/05.

When Stein first reported the Spurs’ offer to Williams, he noted that the longtime coach had received similar offers from other organizations, including the Thunder, and that he “absolutely” wants to become an NBA head coach again. However, as Stein pointed out, Williams’ in-laws live in San Antonio and have been helping to care for his five children, making that an ideal landing spot for now.

As for Fields, we heard last September that he would be sidelined for most of the 2015/16 campaign with a hip injury. His on-court production had also declined significantly, so it’s no surprise he didn’t land with a team at all last season. It’s not clear whether he has decided to transition into the next stage of his career, or if he’d still consider a comeback at some point.

A recent report indicated that many people within the Spurs organization expect Tim Duncan to take on a full-time role with the team at some point, but if that’s going to happen, it will likely happen down the road — Duncan wasn’t mentioned at all in today’s announcement.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.